Latvian taxi order referral community Tico unveiled the world’s first taxibot on Tuesday and said it was in talks with 45 taxi firms and taxi apps to take it international.
The taxibot’s name is Frank and his mission is to take taxi apps global without opening offices in each city.
Bots are spreading fast to automate repetitive tasks prone to human error such as online bidding, trading or game moves. The trending buzzword for bots is “artificial intelligence powered chatbots”, with Slack alone setting aside $80 million to invest in these companies.
Is Frank a chatbot? Yes and no. Tico is a network of 100+ taxi companies, apps and associations that work together to sell each other’s services in countries where they do not operate. Tico drivers bringing clients to the airport used to inquire about their destination and propose to order a taxi through them.
“We were talking to Tico drivers and found that the main slowdown to growth was the human factor: drivers forgot or found it cumbersome to manage international taxi orders. Frank will now do this for them,” said Dmitri Morev, CEO of Tico.
The key benefit for users comes through convenience. With Frank, taxi app users travelling to another city get an automatic prompt to order a taxi at their destination without leaving the app. This means drivers do not have extra work to do and users do not need to download a new taxi app for each city. Frank even lets you order the taxi through Facebook, WhatsApp or Telegram.
Meanwhile, taxi apps can operate in more cities without setting up their own office. Frank is code that taxi services integrate into their existing applications, developed with input from 45 potential clients. It can offer airport transfers, book taxi, suggest prices and send automatic invoices.
“We made Frank as simple as possible: he does not require long and complicated integration or extra resources. Frank is smart enough to handle all necessary processes himself,” said Edmunds Medvedevs, CTO of Tico.
The team estimates the global market for Frank’s airport transfer services alone is 1.5 million clients daily. This consists of travellers who do not organise their transfers in advance and would prefer to order a reliable taxi transfer at the destination. This does not include travellers who want to order taxi during their stay. According to Dmitri, 30 taxi companies and 15 taxi apps are already collaborating with Tico to develop Frank. There is also interest from several well-known players such as Taxify, Cabapp.io and clevertaxi.com.
The team is raising additional capital to speed up development of the taxibot and grow partnerships in line with their global ambition.